JEFF KNAPP: Cool areas below impoundments prime areas for summer trout
Though the arrival of summer ends trout season for many anglers, trout fishing opportunities still abound. A good example is the fine sport available below several of the state’s major impoundments, where discharges of cool water provide excellent trout habitat.
Here’s a look at three of them.
YOUGHIOGHENY RIVER (FAYETTE AND SOMERSET COUNTIES): The Youghio-gheny is a sizable, high-gradient river, one that benefits from the cold water bottom discharge of Youghiogheny Lake. The river flows from south to north, joining the Monongahela River near Mc-Keesport. Due to the large size of the Yough, and its ability to carry trout over from one year to the next, the trout-managed sections are stocked with finglerling-stage trout.
“I think the best trout section is the nine miles that flow between Confluence, where the Casselman River joins the Yough, down to Ramcat Run,” Tom Ference, one of my regular fishing partners, said. “That section can be accessed by a bike/hike trail that parallels the river. Good fishing also exists below the town of Ohiopyle, but the water there is fast and the terrain is rugged. Careful wading is a must.”
The Confluence-to-Ramcat area is managed as All Tackle, Trophy Trout Regulations. From the opening day of trout season until Labor Day anglers can creel two trout, 14 inches minimum length. The remainder of the year no trout can be killed. Consult the Fish and Boat Commission’s current summary book for more details.
Ference said that because the water’s cold, fly hatches occur later than normal on the Yough. He suggested fishing caddis emergers throughout the day, as mayfly hatches are less numerous.
“However, the angler should be prepared with both large and small dry flies — Blue-Winged Olives, Light Cahills, Sulphur Duns — for late-evening hatches. Crayfish patterns or lures that mimic these crustaceans, fished in the many deep, rocky holes, often produce some monster trout,” Ference said.
The spin angler should also be well-equipped with baitfish imitations such as Rapala’s and similar minnow-shaped lures.
TULPEHOCKEN CREEK (BERKS COUNTY): Tulpehocken Creek, commonly called the Tully, is a top trout-fishing destination in eastern Pennsylvania — more specifically the waters below Blue Marsh Dam.
Blue Marsh is a federal flood-control dam. It reaches depths in the 50-foot range, plenty deep enough for the lake to stratify during the summer. Thanks to the dam’s bottom release, the first few miles of this section of the Tully flow cool throughout the summer. It also benefits from cold water feeders like Plum Creek and Cacoosing Creek.
The 3.8 miles of the Tully starting at the Blue Marsh tailrace and extending down to Township Road 921 (Covered Bridge) are managed as Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only. This section is stocked by the Fish and Boat Commission with brown and rainbow trout.
The Tully features a nice blend of pools, runs and riffles. Significant stream-improvement work has been accomplished by the Tulpehocken Chapter of Trout Unlimited. It has rich bug life — mayflies and caddis — so fly anglers should come prepared. During the early summer, sulphurs — both dries and nymphs — are important patterns.
Guide services are available for the Tully. Visit the TCO Fly Fishing website at www.tcoflyfishing.com for more information.
Though harvest is permitted during the summer (from mid-June through Labor Day), most Tully fishers continue to release their trout. As the waters warm — and become potentially stressful to the trout — it’s important to quickly land and release trout to ensure their survival on the Tully.
MIDDLE ALLEGHENY RIVER (WARREN COUNTY): The middle Allegheny River — the lengthy portion that flows from Kinzua Dam down to East Brady — is best known for its outstanding warm-water fishing. However, the extreme upper portion holds trout, including some extremely big ones.
Like the other tailwaters fisheries mentioned here, it’s the cold water released from the multi-level discharge of Kinzua Dam that makes the waters below it hospitable to trout. Nearly nine miles of the river, from the dam’s tailrace down to the mouth of Conewango Creek in Warren, are managed under special trout fishing regulations. This section is stocked with fingerling-stage brown trout; as such, the fish here behave much like stream-bred fish.
Regulations-wise, from the period beginning with the mid-April trout opener through Labor Day, two trout, 14-inch minimum size, can be creeled daily. During the balance of the year no trout can be kept.
During low flows, which are common during the summer, some anglers catch trout within sight of the dam by wade fishing the river. At higher flows, though, this isn’t wise or safe.
Veteran guide Red Childress (www.alleghenyguideservice.com) guides for trout during the summer months. One of his specialties is night fish for big browns with suspending jerkbaits.